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I was meditating today on accepting and letting go of fear, anger and anxiety (which were very loud in my mind at the time) when suddenly my reactions to these states turned into disgust: whenever anger came up, I quickly became disgusted by it. Same thing happened for fear and anxiety. As soon as I sense the suffering in my thoughts, I become disgusted by them. Why is this happening?

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Why is this happening? The mind could be becoming clear & attuned to what is healthy & peaceful. Inner wisdom could be functioning.

Below is a quote from The Removal of Distracting Thoughts sutta:

Like a well-dressed young man or woman who feels horrified, humiliated and disgusted because of the carcass of a snake, dog or human that is hung round his or her neck...the monk in whom unskillful thoughts continue to arise...ponders on the disadvantages of unskillful thoughts thus: Truly, these thoughts of mine are unskillful, blameworthy and productive of misery. Then the evil, unskillful thoughts are eliminated; they disappear. By their elimination, the mind stands firm, settles down, becomes unified and concentrated, just within (his subject of meditation).

The Fire Sermon describes the liberation that results from clearly seeing the 'fire', burning or oppressiveness of lust, hatred & delusion. In the text, the word translated as "estrangement" is 'nibbindaṃ', which also means 'disgust' or 'revulsion'.

The quote below explains the word 'nibbindaṃ':

The more common translation of nibbidā is “disillusionment, disenchantment” but the more serious spiritual practitioners generally prefer “revulsion,” even “disgust.”

http://www.themindingcentre.org/dharmafarer/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/20.1-Nibbida-piya.pdf

In some commentaries, 'nibbindaṃ-disgust' (nibbidanupassana-nana) precedes or creates the 'desire for liberation' (muncitukamyata-nana) rather than liberation itself (as found in the scriptures).

Note: 'Disgust' is not the same as 'hatred/aversion'. 'Disgust' leads to freedom, since it leads to the rejecting, dropping & subsiding of the negative emotion.

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  • Here's a definition of Nibbindati which is used e.g. in SN 35.60. I suppose it doesn't mean quite the same thing as dosa. – ChrisW Jun 7 '16 at 19:58
  • I didn't post 'nibbindaṃ' had the same meaning as 'dosa'. However, Bonnie Topits has mentioned 'dosa'. Thus Steve can investigate whether his experience is that of nibbinda or of dosa. – Dhammadhatu Jun 7 '16 at 20:15
  • You didn't, no; but I don't see a clear difference between the English terms "disgust/revulsion" compared with "aversion/hatred". – ChrisW Jun 7 '16 at 20:18
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    Genuine nibbindaṃ results in dispassion, liberation & peace. Genuine nibbindaṃ leads to 'vomiting up' or dropping the negative emotion. Where as aversion is clinging, obsession with & building up the emotion. Nibbindaṃ (disgust) sides with liberation. Dosa (aversion) sides with bondage. – Dhammadhatu Jun 7 '16 at 20:20
  • Thank you. If you have time I'd suggest you edit that description of its distinction from dosa into the answer ... I think it makes the explanation clearer. Otherwise let's leave it as a comment. – ChrisW Jun 7 '16 at 20:33
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The Buddha said that all suffering is caused by craving, which is also interpreted as attachment. Your meditation started out as letting go of these afflictive emotions, which you were clinging to as evidenced by the loud noises in your mind. It was a good start, but what happened is rather than letting go you flipped to the polar opposite of attachment, which is aversion. This is not an uncommon event when one is trying to cope with afflictive emotions. Our conceptual mind outside of Buddhism has learned that what we do not like/love we must dislike/hate. Your meditative practice needs to find the middle...and I do not mean apathy...rather that you neither like nor dislike these emotions; that they do not influence your life in any positive way, and that you can let go of them without acting on or reacting to them in any manner. They will still crop up on occasion, so repeat the process until you can go through life without any need for these emotions to arise. Lama Surya Das devotes a large section of his book, "Awakening the Buddha Within", to meditation training.

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The idea of meditation is to focus on your meditation no matter what. To be disgusted simply following your anger, fear, anxiety etc. means you are losing focus on meditation.

Every meditator goes through the same. Just bring your thoughts back on meditation again and everything is ok.

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